Friendship Abroad: Keeping friends across 14 time zones

I’m on break from school and work, and yet my alarm goes off at 7:00 am.

Rolling over and complaining about the sudden awakening, I check my calendar. “Is the alarm a mistake?” My calendar reminds me about the plans I made with my friend, and sure enough, I get a message: “Hey, you up? No rush, I know it’s early for you.”

It’s my friend Christina who is 14 hours ahead of me in South Korea. Christina and I met in my high school community theater company, and we became close friends through several different musical productions. We remained friends through college, and I cheered Christina on as she was selected for the Homecoming Committee, cast in Les Miserables, and finally graduated with her bachelor’s.

While I was finishing my last semester, Christina confided in me that she was going to take a job in Los Angeles, all the way across the country. It was a huge decision that I felt super proud of my friend for making, even though I was sad and worried about the possibility of losing her as a friend. It’s natural to worry about how a friendship will continue to flourish or even survive when the friendship loses a natural “shared space”.

For me and Christina, it was a literal “shared space” because we have not seen each other in person in over two years. Soon after getting her job out of the state, she began pursuing her dream of teaching English in another country, which is how she got to South Korea. It makes me incredibly happy to know that she is thriving in her job, teaching 3rd through 6th grade in Changwon, S. Korea.

We are still able to support each other in our successes, losses, and struggles even with the great distance. This brings me back to my story from the beginning. We often plan to video chat to watch movies, share our teaching success stories, or spill our tea about drama at work or home. Usually, it will be early in the morning for one of us but late at night for the other.

We’ve both made sacrifices to make our friendship work, but what I gain out of my relationship with Christina is so worth it. She’s inspiring, validating, and loving. Even though I’m happy with video chatting, I can’t wait to see her in person again. Christina, you’d better be prepared to get the biggest hug from me when that happens. Thanks for always being there. <3

Exploring Together,

Jeanne Marie

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